Sticky situations

There is a range of responses to an emergency. Some people see what needs to be done, and take action. Some people go into a funk and can do nothing for themselves. Most of us are in the middle. One argument made by Sensei M for karate practice is that it enables us to respond in the moment to emergencies.

There are differences. In kumite (pronounce kumité) we do not hit each other. The idea is that the fist reaches the gi and no further. Well, I do not want my eye blacked, certainly not repeatedly, and I do not want to black another’s eye. So the state of an actual fight is an experience I do not have- in it, I would want to do serious harm to an opponent, out of necessity.

Where a blow gets through the block, one is supposed to acknowledge that, with a bow.

Also, in kumite, we should not kick below the belt, while in fighting that is OK. As Sensei A says, the knee is designed to bend one way, and if you make it bend the other your assailant has a serious problem. Could I just do that to someone, again out of necessity? Practising kicks, I am supposed to keep my torso vertical, and so bringing my leg up to kick K’s side gives him sufficient warning to grab and hold on to my foot. K got me in a sweat on Monday. S says I should then hop in and hit him: if he is holding my foot his guard is down.

This brings me to my current work on accepting my feelings. If I see the opportunity and necessity of breaking someone’s leg, I am crippled by my current need to manage and control my feelings.

I build on that. Part is cognitive behavioural: I notice my feelings, rationalise about them, make a more rational perception, allow my emotional being to respond to that altered perception. I feel upset about something, I decide I “should” be grateful for my evolved emotional responses, which are so beautifully fitting- and I feel Gratitude. My anger fear and misery that I have this strong feeling reduces. I am practising this. I do it in my ritual space in full consciousness. I do it on the bus, slightly concerned that I might draw attention to myself- but then, others are absorbed in themselves, usually.

So. Breaking an assailant’s leg: I would accept the feeling of anger and fear, perceive and take the necessary action; rather than going into a funk, as I would in my previous state, so concerned to manage my emotions that I could rarely respond properly, using them.

Evolution by group selection is a theory that Dawkins disparages and EO Wilson advocates: here is a discussion. I can see that this need to control emotions might evolve: people who hold themselves back but obey orders are useful in a group, if only as helots. The group then succeeds and expands, enabling each member to pass on genes. Whatever the cause, it is something I have developed.  I think my altruism and my need for human connection and my moral sense are sufficient to keep me as a creative and valuable member of society. My need to control my emotions does no-one any good, it just gets in the way.

A response to self-consciousness: someone is looking at me, I am Sufficient, I am Acceptable (rather than “normal”), I will carry on doing what I intended to do.

2 thoughts on “Sticky situations

  1. Clare, another beautifully written consideration for my soul. I struggle a great deal these days with the need to control my emotions, because my mother is frail/dying and I do not wish to increase her pain. For example when she has a full blown tantrum, lashing out at me, over a few brown stalks of celery, that I perceived as inedible – and threw away, I breathe and try not to respond. At a certain point when it became clear the energy was building in her rather than dissipating, I had to go outside to water the plants. Staying would have put her in danger at least psychically, of a broken leg. Getting outside, I tried to imagine if I was dying how I might experience someone throwing something away that in my opinion is not yet completely dead. Once my energy was safely back in the earth, the revived plants reminded me of the gift that may be contained in learning how to keep myself calm and un-rippled even when the water around me is roiling. All that being said, although I would try to avoid it completely, I would not hesitate to break the leg of an opponent if my life depended on it.


    • Oh, Beth. Who is in control in your relationship? Why? Who should be?

      (Added) I am sorry, that could seem so crass, making assumptions, giving advice- I am sure you understand the dynamics which I might crudely characterise as dominance/submission, denial/acceptance, love seeking a way and being frustrated and exhausted and making do and getting better- all of that-

      I am going back to your blog.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.